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An Unearthed García Márquez Essay Collection Reveals: "Gabo, The Chronicler"

A noted expert of the late Gabriel García Márquez is putting to rest the idea that the legendary Gabo was just a fantasist and man of fiction, revealing poignant and pointed essays and literary criticism.

An Unearthed García Márquez Essay Collection Reveals: "Gabo, The Chronicler"

Fernando Jaramillo, a recognized expert on Gabo, has made an informal or "pirate" edition of the novelist's prologues.

Julio César Londoño


BOGOTÁ — Call it a miracle, of sorts: we have a new book by Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia's late and perhaps greatest novelist. In fact, with painstaking effort, Fernando Jaramillo, a recognized expert on Gabo, has made an informal or "pirate" edition of the novelist's prologues.

His prologue to De sobremesa ('After Dinner'), a late 19th century novel (written as an "anxious" diary, and published in 1925) and the only one by the poet José Asunción Silva, is Gabo's longest piece of literary criticism. He writes of a passage in the book where a character, Helena, disappears: "The style, tone and lyrical breath, all stand out in the trembling, feverish evocations and quietly exploding apparitions. The writing becomes evanescent, ghostly and more in the romantic mode than the decadent style that marks the book."

In a detailed biography of Silva, Almas en pena, chapolas negras (Pained Souls, Black Butterflies) the author Fernando Vallejo shows how that eminently middle-class gentleman was also a sharp business operator — poet or not (he killed himself in 1896). Likewise, this unique piece of prose shows us all the virtues, and vices, of Garcia Márquez.

In his prologue to a book dedicated to Argentine-French writer Julio Cortázar, García Márquez recounts a train conversation with Cortázar and Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes "crossing the divided night of the Germanies, their oceans of beetroot, immense factories of everything, and the scars of atrocious wars and boundless love affairs."

How can one invent such an implausible construction as the "divided night?"

It is of course a hypallage, as it was Germany, not the night that was divided. But it's an easy switch if you happened to be crossing the Cold War border of the two German states, in the company of two literary giants, Fuentes and Cortázar, and you're Gabo, with his immense breadth and knowledge of us all ... not to mention of the night.

At a 2022 event in Barcelona commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Nobel Prize for the writer.

Lorena Sopana/Contacto/ZUMA

Fidel's lament

The book Habla Fidel (Fidel Talks) is Gianni Minà's famous account of Cuba's late communist ruler, Fidel Castro. In its prologue, García Márquez includes some of the interview's best moments and some of the El Comandante's private moments. "One night, while taking in dainty little spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream, he suddenly seemed overwhelmed by the weight of so many destinies and appeared so distant from himself. Briefly, he seemed different from the person he had always been. I asked him what he most wanted to do in this world, and he immediately answered: "Just stop for a moment in some corner."

It disposes of a pervasive myth that Gabo was some precocious "golden boy."

I had mentioned that Prólogos (Prologues) was a pirate edition, but in fact it has two, formal seals of approval: Jaramillo is an authorized and recognized source on Gabo's work, and the García Márquez's children have bought 10 copies of the book as they respect his work. The late novelist also respected him and read his blog*, Memorabilia, to remind himself of personal data when his memory began to deteriorate.

Prólogos ultimately performs crucial functions, disposing of a pervasive myth in intellectual and literary circles that Gabo was some precocious "golden boy" riding the wave of the Latin American literary boom. There is an idea that he could never have written lengthy, weighty, essays like Mexico's Octavio Paz or his friend Cortázar. It shows that great publishing feats do not need an incredible literary agent or monumental publishers or a grandee as patron.

The readers are all you need to take you to the top.

And finally, above all, it gives to us, Gabo's orphans, more of his texts to read and cherish.

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